Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
      I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
I will be filled with joy because of you.
      I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. 

~psalm 9:1-2

I have much to be thankful for this year. Oh there are things I could whine and complain about but they seem so trivial compared to the blessing that God has poured into my life. 

First and foremost, I'm thankful for my husband. It's not always been an easy road. We've almost fallen apart and have fought our way back to a stronger, solid, loving marriage. He is my best friend. He is my love. He is my rock here on earth. We have learned to stand as one in the face of the storm and to keep God firmly between us. I thank God each and every day for this man.

I'm thankful for my children. There are families all over who are without their children this year. I know personally of a few who won't see their children this holiday because their kids are sacrificing it all to serve our country. There are families who's children will never sit with them again, their lives have been tragically ended.  There are women (myself included) I know who have never had the opportunity to hold their children, their lives ended before they left the womb, either by God's choice or theirs.  Yes, I am grateful for my children and my step-children. Our kids are diverse, fun, loving, generous, filled with a joy for life and at times challenging but they are ours and I love them very much.

I'm thankful for my parents. There are a few women in my life, whom I dearly love, who are without their mothers now as they go through each day. I watch their faith hold them up and give them courage. They are an inspiration to me and it helps me to appreciate my mom even more.

I'm thankful for my health. I stated to whine because I was getting a cold and I thought about how it was going to make me tired and harder to make Thanksgiving dinner. Then I was reminded about these women who's story I've been following. They have cancer, they have families, young children. They have to face their own mortality. I no longer feel sorry for myself and my cold. I'm so very grateful that I get to walk through each day healthy and strong; not yet needing to examine my own mortality.

I'm thankful for all the friends that are in my life. The women who encourage me, lift me up, affirm me. The women who speak truth and life to me. The women who listen to me and let me cry on their shoulders. The women who encourage me as a mother and are transparent in their parenting so I know I'm not alone in my struggles. I'm thankful for my oldest and dearest friend who has stood by me even in my worst days, for the friendship we have that has been forged out of love and trials of life. I'm thankful for the couple who are old friends of ours but now have a new lease on life and the blessing of being able to watch their lives being transformed.

Last but not least and definitely the most important to me...I'm thankful for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for me. I'm thankful that I've been forgiven and that I've experienced the renewing and the healing that can come only from Jesus. I'm grateful for the person I've become. I'm grateful that I can completely blow it and He's right there extending grace. I'm grateful that He's my provider, my comforter, my shelter, my shepherd. I remember the life I was living, the cold hard person I WAS and everyday I'm thankful He extended His grace to me and rescued me from that.

Thank you Lord for all you have given me, all my praise goes to you.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. 
I love you,

Monday, November 8, 2010

As for me and my house...

Our church is going through the Bible in a story format called The Story. It's been really amazing so far. Every week my eyes are opened to something new. This week was no different. I've not yet fully pin-pointed what it was this week that hit me so hard. There were so many different aspects that made me look deep into myself and ask the same question that was asked on Sunday, "Why do I let it happen?".  I began to solidify that I was on the right side of the battle I've undertaken and it gave me courage to step out and ask to do something that terrifies me. If Joshua can step out and be courageous in the face of the battle he had, I'm sure with the Lord next to me, I can open my mouth and say the things I know need to be said. It was comforting to have that confirmation and encouragement that I am on the right path.

I've always loved Joshua 24:15.  My Mema (grandma) had this hanging in her kitchen and after she passed away, I asked my mom if I could have it to hang in mine...

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15

Those words carry as much weight with me now as they did 6 years ago when I first heard them. No, I must say, they probably carry more weight because I have grown in what it means to serve the Lord. That it's not always easy but is full of joy and blessing, that those that you love don't always want to hear about your beliefs, that you must make hard choices; choices that don't follow the logic of society, that you love your husband in a way that society now mocks, that you raise your kids in a way that is thought to be antiquated, that you stand up for what's right and that right and wrong is black and white with no compromise.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spring is almost here!!

I realize we haven't even hit winter yet but to me, spring is right around the corner. Nothing makes the cold dark winter fly by faster than having 26.2 miles looming in front of you. There are 3 or 4 races I'm now trying to decide on. Do I want a large race like Buffalo or this small one I found in Danville that is actually part trails?? 
I deeply wish I was running Big Sur this spring with my husband. I had a slight glimmer of hope the other morning...Big Sur is sold out for 2011 however since Runner's World has their Challenge at Big Sur this year, it seems they have some slots that they have purchased. The glimmer of hope is that there is a way into the race, the part that slams those hopes to the ground is the cost of registration through RW...
The one in Danville Pa really intrigues me. ( It's a very very small marathon (only 400 registrants) through quaint little towns along the Susquehanna River. It would feel like running at home. I love to run along the Susquehanna and through our quaint little Owego and along the country back roads here. 
I'm not sure I can handle the pressure of being so public about it this time however it did help to keep me accountable and at times was very encouraging.  It's a good thing I have a very supportive husband who is willing to spend a Saturday morning driving ahead of me to cheer me on in training! 
Regardless of what I choose, I'd better get my schedule tweaked and solidified, get my running diet figured out and get back on the road. 

184 days just doesn't feel very far way...

the scripture that inspires me to keep moving even when I don't want to (me running in pacific grove, ca) 

Monday, November 1, 2010

reflections of the last year

Even with the ups and downs, I just love my life.  There's not a thing about it I don't like.  Fall is a time of nostalgia, reflection and looking to the future for me. Some of it is that I mark the passing of the years by the new school year and some of it is that with Thanksgiving right around the corner I tend to look at all I'm thankful for.  This year is no different...

So much has changed in my life over the last few years. I became a Christian 6 years ago. God did some amazing work in my life right away but I didn't really surrender it all till 2 years ago. Since then so much has changed. I've really learned what it means to be a wife, mom, friend, daughter, woman. It's been an interesting journey. I've learned to die to self when all I wanted to do was stomp my feet and get my way. I've learned (or should I say,  I'm LEARNING) to be gracious, set my pride aside, yield to others, be a friend, a helpmate, be supportive when I don't agree, I'm trying to give my kids room to be themselves, and most of all I'm learning to allow myself to feel emotions when they come. I've learned it's ok to mourn my child I've never held, to cry when I've been hurt, to be appropriately angry at the wrongs of this world and to be overly joyful with and for my amazing family and friends.

Thanksgiving '08
Thanksgiving has always been a joyous time for me.  Family comes together and I get to shower them with love and a warm home. This year is no different except I feel the hole of mema not being with us. I'm beyond grateful that I got to have one of my grandmothers until I was 37 years old but I miss her terribly. The Lord took her home this past January and this will be my first Thanksgiving without her advice, suggestions and company. She's the one that taught me the love of Thanksgiving and the joy of cooking for my family.  My husband and I leave an empty plate at our Thanksgiving table every year for those who can't be with us. This year that empty seat is going to be much more painful for me to look at but at least I know Mema is no longer in pain and running around with Jesus.

The past year has also been a test of faith for me. I began running in April of 2009, ran my first 5k in August and in September of 2009 signed up for my first marathon. I ran through the winter, through injuries, through fear, discouragement and doubt. I have had great triumphs and great failures in my training but through it all, Jesus was right next to me, encouraging me through each lonely mile on the road.  I got injured in March and the race was in April. I ran through the injuries, not very successfully and with a very defeated attitude. I had no idea how I was going to accomplish this task. My last run at the beginning of April was 20 miles and if not for my husband's honesty in telling me to suck it up and get it done because I HAD to, I don't think I could have made it through that run. (
He encouraged me through more runs that I can count. One time during an injured 15 mile run, he'd go a mile or two ahead of me and wait, check on me, encourage me and push me forward.  When we got to California and finally got to drive the Big Sur race course I was excited, overwhelmed and very very worried. I prayed a lot during my training, it actually became a prayer time for me but I had no prayers looking at this course except for Lord Help Me!!  I wouldn't say the race was a great success but I finished it...barely. God sent a Christian woman to come along side me and encourage me through some of the hardest miles I faced. I'll never forget her name...Patty, because a dear friend of mine from home is also named Patty. Patty so wanted to be with me at this race to encourage and cheer me on. She helped me through some of my injuries, was a source of peace during that time and was a huge cheerleader for me at home.  This Patty in California did all those things for me also on the race course.  When I crossed that finish line, I couldn't wait to just collapse in my husbands arms. I just was overwhelmed by a huge range of emotions.  Raising kids has been the hardest, most challenging and rewarding thing I've ever done.  Running the Big Sur Marathon the second hardest thing I ever did.  I don't think any other marathon I'll ever run will compare to this one in the challenges I faced because I didn't know what to expect and didn't think it could possibly be as hard as it really was. I thank God that I had the learning, growing experience and that because of HIM I made it across that finish line.

Right after finishing my 1st marathon
Looking out at the amazing Pacific Ocean

In the last year my marriage has deepened and grown. I'm not sure if I can even find the words to fully describe what has happened. As we've grown in Christ our marriage has also grown.  My husband and I now fully work together as a team. God has truly joined us as one. We work together in unison in all decisions, big and small.

the only decent picture of us together in months!
It's fitting since it is on the west coast  and we both fell in love with California

We've moved three times now since July of 08 and we have no intensions of moving again for a very long time! This last move (July '10) took a huge toll on me but we feel like we are now home.
our 1st home together (about 3 years)

our 2nd home (for about 1-1/2 years)

3rd home (less than a year)

current and hopefully last home! 

We've both gotten involved in different ministries. My husband with worship and prison ministry and me with MOPS and a local crisis pregnancy center mainly in their abortion recovery program and running an abortion recovery group through my church.  I've also started homeschooling our preschooler. That eventually will become my full time ministry for awhile as she gets a bit older.  Without the support of our wonderful family, none of these would be possible!!!

As I look to the future, I can see my husband and I joining together to work side by side in some ministry. I also have plans to run more marathons. I'm signing up for NYC in a week or so but I'll have to wait for the results of the lottery drawing.  I'd like to run either a marathon or a half in the spring of '11. My husband and I desire to run Big Sur together in 2012. I look forward to running a race with him by my side.   Next year will also be our 5th wedding anniversary and we are planning on renewing our vows. I really look forward to our recommittal to each other and God in front of our family and friends.

This just touches on the surface of where we've been and what has happened this past year.  Even during the harder times, I'm very grateful for all I have.  God has truly blessed me.

Joel 2:25 "The Lord says, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten." And He has, abundantly.